Joseph Wolpe South Africa people feelings psychology behaviour Joseph Wolpe South Africa

A look at Behaviour Therapy

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Behaviour therapy is rooted in experimental psychology and most books will tell you that behaviour therapy is based on the principles of Pavlov (of the salivating dogs) and Skinner (of the rat box).

However, in my view, much current behaviour therapy is based on a practical, pragmatic approach rather than fossilised psychological therapy.The original applications of behaviour therapy can be traced to the 1950’s when Joseph Wolpe, a South African psychiatrist working in America, applied systematic desensitisation to the treatment of simple phobias.

This approach was based on the idea that if you taught people to relax, this was incompatible with feeling anxious. Wolpe called this process “Reciprocal Inhibition”, i.e.

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